#11 JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC by JHONEN VASQUEZ
Dear Die-ary, it’s us again! Writing this entry from the beautiful city of Bedlam…
You may be able to tell from the title of this graphic novel that JTHM is not your average offering. Set in the afore-mentioned Bedlam, a perversely deranged and gruesome place where the bad things come out unless you keep the walls painted with blood this is the story of Johnny, a somewhat unusual young man who finds himself forced to choose between the wisdom of a psychotic dough-boy and a floating nailbunny when it comes to what he should do with his life.
And Yes. Those are actual things, not typos…which just goes to show how off-the-wall, how niche Vasquez’s offering is. It’s unquestionably going to be one of those works that you either love or hate. We for one though are firmly wearing our ‘We totally freaking love this’ hat loud and proud. There may even be a badge too. Or a bum bag.
And that’s not just because we often find ourselves drawn to the darker side of the human psyche (although that probably plays a part.) Mostly it’s because the artwork here is full of both purity and clarity- it’s geometrically beautiful while being intricate at the same time. The words too actually. The dialogue wrapped around these images matches their intensity page for page and is fantastically funny too. Seriously. This thing is sassy as hell. Disturbing, good-looking and sassy.
All of which would be enough to get our vote on making this GN into a kick ass movie. However you have to add in the fact that author Vasquez is smart enough to recognise that some readers will use the violence he creates as a weapon (as some kind of mantra to back up their own perverted desires ) and in response to this does something super super smart. He has his character Johnny continually breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to these idiots in a ground breaking move and on this point his words are nothing less than scathing. As they should be.
So even if you’re tempted to disregard the novel’s obvious talent for dark comedy you have to give the author respect for his level of self awareness and willingness to tackle the big issues, right?
There’s just so much to take in here. Johnny’s homicidal angst. His character Happy Noodle-Boy’s mania. Every panel bursts with innovation and gothic ultra-violence that would transfer perfectly to the big screen given the right director (albeit requiring the dreaded R/18 certificate) & the narrative’s constant attempts to force you to interact with the story whether that be by turning the strip horizontal or filling the borders with handwritten insanity could definitely be used to create a fantastic new cinematic style. All you would need is a director with vision and some pretty big balls.
The point we’re trying to make really is that the whole thing is a mesmerising labyrinth of a tale; head frying and eye melting in equal measure. We can honestly say we’ve never read anything quite like it and if you trust us on nothing else, trust us on that. Well, that and the fact that JTHM won’t be the last Jhonen Vasquez work cluttering up our bookshelf. Just hope and pray that if this does make it to the big screen that it doesn’t get diluted during the production process because this is one story that needs its claws.
Scratch, scratch everyone.